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Facebook is quietly giving in to government pressures to censor content – A N I T H
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Facebook is quietly giving in to government pressures to censor content

Facebook is quietly giving in to government pressures to censor content


Image: AZUBEL/EPA/REX/Shutterstock

For all its talk about creating a more “open and connected world”, Facebook appears to be quietly pandering to more government requests for censorship.

The social giant on Tuesday said that it would consider blocking local content on Facebook in Thailand, on a case-by-case basis, in response to a request by the Thai government to block some 600 local Facebook pages.

“When governments believe that something on the Internet violates their laws, they may contact [us]…when we receive such a request, it is scrutinised to determine if the specified content does indeed violate local laws,” a Facebook spokesperson told news outlet the Bangkok Post.

“If we determine that it does, then we make it unavailable in the relevant country or territory and notify people who try to access it why it is restricted.”

Thai internet service providers had asked the social platform to block 600 Facebook pages ordered closed by the Thai court, as part of the 6,900 web pages or websites the court has ordered closed since 2015. 

Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission secretary-general Takorn Tantasith said Facebook’s response was “a good sign” of things to come. 

“The response from Facebook was a good sign of future cooperation between local ISPs and the U.S. internet giant,” he said to the Bangkok Post.

But its not only pages that Thailand is cracking down on. 

A video of Thailand’s 64-year-old King Maha Vajiralongkorn surfaced on social media last week, showing the king strolling through a shopping mall in Germany wearing a crop-top.

The video was quickly blocked in the country, leaving local netizens unable to view the video on Facebook.

Thailand has strict lese-majeste laws that bans criticism of the royal family — be it verbally, online, or in print. 

Facebook later confirmed to news outlet VICE that it had blocked netizens in Thailand from accessing the video. 

And it’s not just Thailand, either.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg raised concerns after reports that Facebook was working on a censorship tool that would help gain it eventual entry in China, where it is blocked.

The social media giant had earlier last week also said that it would work with Vietnam’s government to block certain social media content the country says violates its laws.

So the next time you go on Facebook, you might just want to ask yourself how “open and connected” it really is.

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Anith Gopal
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